Lilly, Apple, Somany, Huawei: Intellectual Property

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive a bid by Vanderbilt University to have three of its scientists named as co-inventors on patents covering Eli Lilly & Co.’s Cialis impotence drug.

The justices yesterday left intact a ruling throwing out a suit brought by the Nashville, Tennessee-based university against Lilly’s Icos subsidiary. A federal appeals court, upholding a trial judge, concluded that the scientists didn’t play a role in creating the drug. Vanderbilt then took its appeal to the nation’s highest court.

Cialis in 2010 had third-quarter sales of $153.5 million in the U.S. and $406.5 million worldwide. Indianapolis-based Lilly acquired Icos and gained full control over Cialis in 2007.

The case is Vanderbilt v. Icos, 10-412.

RPX, a ‘Defense Patent Aggregator’ Plans Initial Public Offering

RPX Corp., which calls itself a “defensive patent aggregator,” has filed a registration certificate with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission saying it intends to sell $100 million worth of shares.

The San Francisco-based company said in its filing that the initial public offering is underwritten by Goldman, Sachs & Co., Barclays Capital, Allen & Company LLC, Cowen & Co. It has applied for listing on the Nasdaq Global Market, to be traded under the symbol “RPXC.”

RPX, which is a subscription-based patent risk-management company, has among its 70 subscribers Google Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., Nokia Oyj., Panasonic Corp. Samsung Electronics CO., SAP AG, Sharp Corp., Sony Corp., and Verizon Communications Inc.

The aim of RPX is to reduce the burden of companies’ litigation brought by patent owners who use their patents only to threaten litigation or demand licensing revenue, according to the company’s Web site. This kind of patent owner is commonly known as a non-practicing entity; the pejorative term is “patent troll.”

RPX acquires patents that its subscribers can use defensively and has more than 1,500 patents and patent rights, company spokeswoman Lilly Loh said in November.

The company was founded in 2008 by two ex-employees of Intellectual Ventures, the Bellevue, Washington-based company headed by former Microsoft Corp. Chief Technology Officer Nathan Myrvold.

Chief Executive Officer John A. Amster, who was Intellectual Ventures’s general manager of strategic acquisitions and vice president of licensing, has also served as a managing director, and founded the mergers and acquisitions practice at Ocean Tomo, a Chicago-based IP investment bank.

Geoffrey T. Barker, who shares the RPX chief executive post with Amster, was previously vice president, licensing, at Intellectual Ventures. Before that, he was founder, chairman and chief executive of Vigilos Inc., a closely held Seattle-based security company.

Eran Zur, who serves as president of RPX, was a partner at Hoffman & Zur, a Phoenix-based patent-licensing law firm. Today the firm is known as the Hoffman Patent Firm. He has also done patent-licensing work for the Lemelson Medical, Education & Research Foundation, a private charity founded by the late inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife.

In November RPX Corp. hired Mallun Yen, Cisco Systems Inc.’s vice president for worldwide intellectual property, to be executive vice president.

According to the company filing, it spent $22.6 million to acquire patents in its first year of operation. In 2009, the company spent $38.5 million on patents, and the first nine months of 2010, the company spent $63.1 million.

Apple Seeks Patent for Keyboard That Reads User’s Gestures

Apple Inc., maker of the iPad and iPhone, has applied for a patent on a keyboard technology that could eliminate the use of a mouse or other kind of pointing device.

Application 20110006991, published in the database of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Jan. 13, is for an image processing technique that used camera-based motion tracking.

The cameras can read gestures made over the surface of the keys and permit the mechanical keyboard to receive command and cursor input, without the user’s having to remove hands from the keyboard.

The application notes that although a variety of alternatives to the mechanical keyboards exist -- such as membrane keyboards, roll-up keyboards -- they have failed to replace or duplicate the commercial success of the conventional mechanical keyboard.

After the cameras track the motion of the user’s hands, image-processing techniques can be used to minimize or remove undesirable cursor movement, the application specifies.

Apple filed the application in July 2009, with the assistance of Morrison & Foerster LLP of San Francisco.

For more patent news, click here.


Alberto-Culver Sues Garcoa, Says ‘Tresemme’ Mark Infringes

Alberto-Culver International Inc., a cosmetics maker, sued Garcoa Inc.’s Garcoa Laboratories for trademark infringement.

Garcoa, based in Calabasas, California, is a manufacturer and distributor of private label products. The company is accused of infringing trademarks Alberto-Culver uses for its Tresemme hair-care products.

According to the complaint filed January 21 in federal court in Chicago, Garcoa is selling Tresseplex hair-care products that infringe the marks. Albert-Culver said Garcoa’s bottle and display of the mark also infringe its trade dress.

Garcoa’s actions are likely to cause consumer confusion, and lead to the mistaken impression there is an affiliation between its products and Alberto-Culver’s, the company said in its pleadings.

Melrose Park, Illinois-based Alberto-Culver asked the court to bar Garcoa from using its Tresseplex mark and any trade identity that is an imitation of the Tresemme packaging.

Additionally, the company asked for an award of money damaged and requested they be tripled to punish Garcoa for its alleged infringement. It also seeks awards of attorney fees and litigation costs.

Garcoa didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

Alberto-Culver is represented by Craig S. Fochler, Charles R. Mandly Jr., and Andrew M. Gross of Milwaukee’s Foley & Lardner LLP.

The case is Alberto-Culver International Inc. v. Garcoa Laboratories, 1:11-cv-00481, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

Somany and Sanitec Units Lose Trademark Challenge in India

Hindustan Sanitaryware, a partnership between New Delhi, India’s Somany Ceramics Ltd., and the U.K.’s Sanitec UK Ltd.s’ Twyford unit, has lost a trademark challenge to Champion Ceramics of Thagadh, India, the Sify Indian news Web site reported.

The dispute involved toilet-maker Hindustan Sanitaryware’s “Hindware” trademark it claimed was infringed by Champion’s “Himware” brand, according to Sify.

Justice Mool Chand Garg of the Delhi High Court said he did not find “any infirmity” in a lower court’s order refusing to bar Champion’s use of “Himware,” Sify reported.

The court noted that although the two marks sounded somewhat similar, they differed from each other visually, according to the news website.

For more trademark news, click here.


Coelho Circumvents Iran Censors, Permits Free Uploads of Books

Brazilian novelist Paul Coelho, whose books were banned by Iranian censors, has responded by putting Farsi translations of his books up on his Web site so that readers can download them for free, he said at his blog site.

He said Arash Jejaazi, an Iranian novelist and editor, told him on Jan. 9 that Iran’s Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance has banned any book he wrote. Jejaazi was the managing director of Caravan Books, Coelho’s publisher.

In his blog post, Jejaazi said that in Iran books cannot be published without obtaining a prepublication permission and that the ministry has withdrawn all its permissions for Coelho’s books. Previously Coelho’s books had been published in that country since 1998.

Coelho previously caught the ire of his U.K-based publisher Harper Collins Publishers Ltd., for pirating his own books by posting online versions of his books.

The U.K.’s Guardian newspaper reported in August 2008 that Coelho and Harper Collins reached an accord in which each month one of the Brazilian writer’s books is available for free through the publisher’s website in a format that prevents copies from being made.

For more copyright news, click here.

Trade Secrets/Industrial Espionage

Huawei Sues Motorola to Protect Product Information

Huawei Technologies Co. sued Motorola Solutions Inc. and Nokia Siemens Networks to block any disclosure of confidential information about its telecommunications-network products in a proposed acquisition.

Motorola Solutions hasn’t assured Huawei that it will prevent such disclosures to Nokia Siemens Networks, which said last year it will buy Motorola’s wireless-network business, according to Huawei’s complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Chicago. Huawei wants the court to modify the deal to prevent disclosures.

Motorola Solutions, based in Schaumburg, Illinois, has resold Huawei’s wireless-network products under the Motorola name since 2000, according to the statement.

“We have tried to work with Motorola to ensure that our confidential, proprietary and very valuable intellectual property is not handed over to a competitor who’s in the same business,” Bill Plummer, a spokesman for Shenzhen, China-based Huawei, said in a telephone interview from Chicago. “So far we have not received any assurance from Motorola that will not happen.”

This month, Motorola Inc. spun off its mobile-phone business into a new company, Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. The company’s remaining two-way radio and scanning-gear units were combined in Motorola Solutions.

Motorola Solutions had no immediate comment, spokesman Nick Sweers said in an interview. “We’re reviewing the suit,” he said.

Yesterday’s legal action follows a suit filed last July by Motorola alleging that Huawei conspired with former Motorola employees to steal trade secrets.

“We don’t comment on pending lawsuits and their content,” Carol DeMatteo, a spokeswoman for Nokia Siemens in Irving, Texas, said in a telephone interview. Nokia Siemens’ $1.2 billion acquisition of part of Motorola Solutions’ business hasn’t been completed.

“Nokia wants to close this deal early in 2011,” Plummer said. “If that deal is finalized and that IP is transferred, that transfer can never be undone.”

The case is Huawei Technologies v. Motorola Inc., 11-cv-00497, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois (Chicago).

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